Casebook 2011: Automatic guided vehicles replaces aging rail car

Super-sized, specially designed AGV handles wide loads for manufacturer of naval and commercial vessels.

By ·

Northrop Grumman, a designer and builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines and provider of aftermarket services to an array of naval and commercial vessels, was having trouble locating parts for its rail car and maintenance costs were escalating. When expanding its facility in 2004, instead of going with the aged rail car technology it was using, engineers installed an automatic guided vehicle (AGV; Jervis B. Webb Company, 248-553-1000, http://www.jervisbwebb.com) with far more locomotion.

Prior to 2004, the company used a roller conveyor that carried primed plates from the plate prep building to a 30-year-old rail car that carried plates to each of six trimming stations. As production increased, the company built an additional station in another facility that would have required the rail car to travel a 90-degree bend.

Instead, the company installed a new, laser-guided AGV to replace the rail car. The battery-powered AGV not only replaced embedded steel rails in the floor, but also the trailing AC cord apparatus. With four-wheel drive and independent steering, the new AGV travels in any direction, inside and outside the facility. The AGV operates automatically according to programmed instructions from the operator, using laser-scanning system at each end of the vehicle to detect people and objects.

The company’s new plate transport system moves large steel plates varying from 3/16 of an inch to 2 inches thick and up to 14 feet wide by 50 feet long. The largest of these plates can weigh nearly 20 tons. The AGV is capable of straddling a stack of plates up to 18 inches high, allowing it to travel over the stack to deliver to other locations.

“The uniqueness of this AGV is that it has a powered roller deck on top to roll the plates off,” says project engineer John Chilbert, who also says the company is considering other possible AGV applications. “As we replace our older materials handling systems, we want to replace them with the best new technology available.”


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Your Guide to Voice for the Warehouse
Is voice a good fit for my operation? How would voice work in my warehouse? With the help of the Vitech Guide to Voice, you can find all the answers to your voice questions in one place.
Download Today!
From the October 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
An early adopter, Rochester Drug Cooperative is using robotic piece-picking technology to complement picking of slow-moving items. System report for Rochester Drug Cooperative, Robotic picking and inventory management, Innovative distribution center robotics solutions , IAM Robotics case study
Injecting agility into WMS implementation
The Big Picture: Business as Unusual
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
The State of the DC Voice Market
A lot has changed in the last 10 years, especially in voice technology. This webinar will cover the state of the voice market, review two leading voice solutions and help you gain a better understanding of the options and capabilities available today.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Rochester Drug Cooperative: Robots ready for work
It’s still early stages, but Rochester Drug Cooperative is proving that mobile robotic piece...
Manufacturing Day: 2,716 events from Hawaii to Alaska to Puerto Rico
Events to be scheduled throughout the month, so the remaining 249,185 manufacturing firms in the...

System Report: Pouch sorter powers Stage’s fulfillment needs
How a hometown department store chain transformed its e-fulfillment processes with pouch sortation...
Cubing and Weighing Equipment: Measure Up
The use of cubing and weighing equipment is growing beyond dimensional weight applications.